1. Anu Solomon has been praised as a quarterback that can really be effective throwing the football from the read-option. What about his dual-threat ability makes him such an effective quarterback?
Calling him a "duel-threat" quarterback is actually putting it kindly. He's slow while running the ball. What makes him dangerous is his poise and overall demeanor. The dude just wins games. Four-straight Nevada State Championships as the starting QB at Bishop Gorman before coming down here to Tucson. The calm demeanor allows him to see all the options without feeling rushed, like how B.J. Denker looked at times last year. And his WRs are crazy good.
2. Rich Rod has stressed the importance of speed on this roster and the Wildcats' assortment of wideouts really speaks to those talents. The one player that sparks fear into USC's eyes is Austin Hill (10 catches for 259 yards in 2012), so how important has his health been for Arizona's passing attack?
Austin Hill back this year has been a key part to Arizona's success with the passing game, but I wouldn't call him the biggest threat as far as the wide receivers go this year. Cayleb Jones, a transfer from Texas, has been lighting it up so far this year. Jones is a slightly bigger version of Hill, who also plays a lot more physical than Austin does. Hill is now more of a threat from the slot, and will make some short-yardage catches in the middle of the field for the most part, and Jones will go down the field along with some of the smaller guys. Outside of the Cal game and the Hail Mary play, Austin Hill really hasn't done as much as most people were expecting this year. But he does like USC so we'll see if he has a big game this week or not.
3. In honor of Bear Down, Arizona's rush defense has taken solid steps from last season's output. Against a USC team that will want to pound the football, what can the Wildcats bring to the table to them down?
The defense up front is all about Scooby Wright in the middle. The defensive line succeeded against Oregon probably because the Ducks had so many injuries on their offensive line, but outside of that game, the D-line has been poor, and that's putting it nicely. Wright, Tra'Mayne Bondurant (who I'll talk about in a minute) and the combination of Cody Ippolito and Derrick Turituri at the other OLB position will be the key to Arizona stopping the run game.
4. What's the feeling around the program about how far this team can go? Obviously college football is a week-to-week thing, but have fans overlooked tough games against UTSA and Cal following the Oregon win.
You know what I've seen a lot of, and this is going to sound slightly insane, but a lot of people are justifying that close Cal game by recognizing that the Bears are the first place team in the North right now. Which I guess is a viable argument, right? The UTSA game I can chalk up to being the first true road game that Anu Solomon ever had to play, and partially because it was on a short week. There's definitely a lot more excitement (this game sold out on Monday, which is unheard of here), but I think most people are waiting until after this weekend to see what this team really is. This game in the past has been one where Arizona gets blown out of the water, like the ASU game after beating Oregon last year. There's excitement, just a little more muted than you would expect at a school that's 5-0 for the first time since 1998.
5. The name Scooby Wright took the Pac-12 world by storm last week but what can you say about Tra'Mayne Bondurant, a linebacker you have praised before, and the rest of the Arizona linebacking corp?
I mean, I do love me some Tra'Mayne Bondurant. There's just something about the way he plays that was missing from the defense during noncon play while he was working his way out of the dog house. For USC fans that don't know, Bondurant left the program the first day of fall camp without talking to RichRod, then the very next day, was back, but not fully included in practice after finally talking to Rodriguez. And he was probably the most important defensive player last year, so that was a big loss to start the year.
But now that he's back, he's playing linebacker instead of safety, as Will Parks earned that spur safety starting spot. Bondruant's athleticism and knack for the ball is unique at linebacker for sure, and will present challenges for the opposing offense. As for the rest of the linebackers, Jake Matthews, Cody Ippolito and Derrick Turituri basically just rotate around Scooby. Turituri is built like a dump truck, and Ippolito is one of the guys that got in a fight on the sideline during the New Mexico Bowl two years ago, so he's a little bit crazy. But Scooby and Tra'Mayne are definitely the two most important guys at that position right now.
6. Can you explain what both Nick Wilson and Terris Jones-Grigsby bring to the table for the Wildcats' rushing attack?
They are both basically mini versions of Ka'Deem Carey. Unfortunately, Nick Wilson probably won't play this week after getting hurt against Oregon, but Terris Jones-Grigsby has proven in his two starts that he's able to carry the load. They both pound it, but both are also a little quicker in the open field than Ka'Deem was. They both also proved last week that they can get receptions out of the backfield if needed as well. It's pretty cool as an Arizona fan that the rushing game has barely dropped off after Ka'Deem leaving. I never thought that would happen.
7. Will Arizona protect home turf and beat the Trojans?
I think they will. This team feels different than years past, and they are on a mission to do some damage in the Pac-12. Arizona Stadium's going to be rocking Saturday night, and it'll be fun, and it'll probably be close, but I think the Wildcats will pull this one out.